I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Daniel 3:13-30 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought in; so they brought those men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods and you do not worship the golden statue that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble to fall down and worship the statue that I have made, well and good.[a] But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire, and who is the god that will deliver you out of my hands?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter. 17 If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us.[b] 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.”
The Fiery Furnace
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face was distorted. He ordered the furnace heated up seven times more than was customary, 20 and ordered some of the strongest guards in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. 21 So the men were bound, still wearing their tunics,[c] their trousers,[d] their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the furnace of blazing fire. 22 Because the king’s command was urgent and the furnace was so overheated, the raging flames killed the men who lifted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 But the three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down, bound, into the furnace of blazing fire.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up quickly. He said to his counselors, “Was it not three men that we threw bound into the fire?” They answered the king, “True, O king.” 25 He replied, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the fourth has the appearance of a god.”[e] 26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men; the hair of their heads was not singed, their tunics[f] were not harmed, and not even the smell of fire came from them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him. They disobeyed the king’s command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that utters blasphemy against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins; for there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Tomorrow, February 21st, is the first Sunday in the season of Lent. Our worship theme this season is Darkest Before the Dawn. Within every moment of deep darkness lies the certainty that the dawn is coming.
Most people have felt, at one time or another, that everything seems hopeless. This is true for people of deep faith and people of no faith. It is true for the people we encounter in the Bible. Often times, these moments of utter darkness tend to take place right before a great healing or deliverance or even resurrection. Just as deep hopelessness sets in, there is the dawn of hope.
In this season of Lent, many of us are experiencing some of these moments of darkness, in all kinds of areas and in all kinds of ways. I invite you to be a part of our Lenten journey, as we travel together through the darkness to reach the dawn of hope — and the glory of Easter Sunday.
Each week we’ll be experiencing a story from scripture that follows our theme. On the first Sunday of Lent we’ll experience the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—our scripture for today’s devotional. These faithful and courageous people refused to bow down and worship other gods, as commanded by King Nebuchadnezzar. The king was so enraged that “his face twisted beyond recognition.” He ordered that the furnace be heated up to seven times its normal heat and had the men bound and thrown into the furnace as punishment. Now, that’s a pretty dark, hopeless situation.
But, that isn’t the end of the story. They weren’t alone in the furnace and they escaped the furnace unscathed—their hair wasn’t even singed. So impressed was Nebuchadnezzar that he released them and praised the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
It is one of the many stories of deliverance that we find in the Bible. What does that mean for us as we face our own fiery furnaces in whatever form they come? What is the message of this ancient story for us today?
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster